Quyen “Quinn” Dinh was born in Vietnam in 1977 and was part of the boat people generation. She left with her family from Vietnam in 1979 and found a permanent home in Southern California in the early 1980s. Quyen graduated from USC film school in 2004 but abandoned a film career to follow her first love, fine art. Parlor Tattoo Prints was established in 2012 and 8 years later, it has turned into a multimedia shop offering prints and handmade toys.
“My shop is located in the heart of downtown Santa Ana, which is the county seat of Orange County in Southern California. It is still a predominately Hispanic community (as much of the greater LA area is) but has had an artist Renaissance in the past decade and I am so absolutely happy living and working in this town.”
As for what came first, getting tattooed or creating tattoo style art, Quyen said she’s “pretty sure they happened at the same time.” This artist had a habit (still does) of drawing up her own tattoos but these days she is not getting tattooed as often. Her career in tattoo related art didn’t happen until much later when she was in her mid-30s. “The aesthetics of vintage art inspires me or anything from the old days.” Quyen said, “there’s just this very simplistic, bold, and color illustrative aesthetic that I’m drawn to naturally.” In a previous interview Dinh said she prefers the Americana traditional style because “it conjures up feelings of nostalgia and takes me to a place that feels like home.” Mindless Peace asked if she would ever become a tattoo artist herself, to which she responded, “I’m too selfish to ever be a Tattooer, I want to do my own art rather than someone else’s. Plus I would hate to work on a moving, bleeding canvas. Not to mention I’m an extreme introvert. I couldn’t sit in a shop all day with people.” Creating her own art that feels like home has proved to be more than enough for this artist.
The summer of 2012 is when she began selling her traditional style tattoo prints after losing her job at the Santa Ana Police Department. When people started to discover her work, creating art in a tattoo style was not intentional. “I was a failing pop surrealist painter.” It was when she took a break to draw up some personal tattoo designs that she found a flow to go with.
“Yes, Yes, and yes,” she said when asked about future plans. “I have so many aspirations I want to accomplish in this lifetime. I’m constantly thinking of the next step. I finally got my self from 2D to 3D. I’m lucky that it’s been a smooth transition.” It wasn’t until this year, 2020, that Parlor Tattoo Prints really gained momentum. “I was going through a lot of transitions in 2018 and was feeling out of the waters. Now I’ve dived off the deep end and I’m happy to be drowning.” Part of the creative abyss Quyen Dinh now allows herself to sink into, involves sculpting.
The creative process she said, is similar to many. “I brainstorm what would be a piece that I’d enjoy having in my own collection but also a piece that would be received well.” After the idea is conceived, she looks up a reference photo and from there she creates a “skeleton” and uses that as the foundation for her armature or framework. “Then the sculpting begins.” Out of every category that Parlor Tattoo Prints has to offer on Etsy from barber prints to fan art, I asked which was her current favorite. “The toy section. It’s where my heart is now.”
It’s not often that I get to meet creatives who are differently creative than me, much less fellow creatives who also follow Christ. “I am a Jesus freak,” Quyen said about her driving force in life and art. She added, “When I say He has guided me in my life’s choices, I mean that very literally.” Knowing this is a discussion with many layers, she concluded that extrapolating the topic any further would “honestly require a sit-down.”
As a parting gift to her followers, fellow creatives, and the readers of Mindless Peace, she encouraged, “use your gifts and you will find your purpose.” Parlor Tattoo Prints has become a successful business in under a decade and there is still much more to be done but as far as what exactly comes next she said, “I honestly don’t know what the future holds for Parlor Tattoo Prints but I’m happy to be surprised. I’ve been surprised before.”
Where to find her: